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COP 26

COP 26

Date: 10 Dec 2021

A quick review of COP 26

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was held in Glasgow between 31st October and 13th November 2021 with the aim of furthering action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. All countries agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep alive efforts to reduce global warming to less than 1.50C, and to scale up and accelerate climate action. Highlights of Glasgow Climate Pact follows (Source: COP26: The Negotiations Explained :
  • Science and Urgency – climate science from the latest IPCC report is to be embedded into the decision-making process to inform on how to keep the 1.50C target in reach.
  • Adaptation – parties agreed to launch the 2-year Glasgow-Sharm el Sheikh Work Programme (The GlaSS) aimed at delivering action to reduce vulnerability, increase resilience and increase people’s, and the planet’s adaptive capacity to climate change impacts.
  • Adaptation Finance – developed countries are to, at least, double the collective financial amount they provide to developing countries, based on 2019 levels, for adaptation purposes
  • Mitigation – parties agreed to show a stronger commitment to limit global temperature increases to 1.50C. Parties agreed to ‘phase down’ the use of coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Parties are to review their 2030 emission reduction targets next year (2022) and bring them in line with the temperature targets in the Paris Agreement.
  • Finance, Technology Transfer and Capacity-Building for Mitigation and Adaptation – discussions on long term finance to continue through to 2027. Parties agreed to take into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. Parties noted the importance of continuing to enhance international coherence and coordination of capacity-building for developing and emerging nations.
  • Loss and Damage – parties endorsed the need to increase the amount of money provided to tackle loss and damage as a result of climate change. Parties also agreed on the functions and funding arrangements for the Santiago Network which will support the provision of technical assistance to help minimise or avert loss and damage to Nations.
  • Implementation – progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement is to be assessed over the next 2 years with a Global Stockade taken place in 2023.
  • Collaboration – parties agreed to a new ten-year work programme for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). This will focus on climate education advancement, training, public awareness, public participation, access to information for the public, as well as international cooperation. Parties agreed to new steps to bring more coherence to discussion and action on land and climate change. Parties agreed to asking UN climate institutions to integrate the ocean into their work.
  • Nature – The importance of nature and ecosystems and the connection between the climate and biodiversity challenges is further recognised as well as the critical role nature will have in achieving the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement.
While climate science experts say that staying within a 1.50C temperature rise is still possible with the commitments outlined in the Glasgow Climate Pact many people agree that the Parties at COP26 didn’t go far enough. One of the biggest talking points from the last day of the conference was the last-minute change to the language around fossil fuel where the text was changed from a ‘phase out’ of coal to a ‘phase down'. This change was led by two of the world’s biggest fossil fuel emitters in China and India. While other countries opposed the change, in the end they conceded. In his closing speech COP26 president Alok Sharma said “I apologise for the way this process has unfolded and I’m deeply sorry. I also understand the deep disappointment, but I think as you have noted it is vital that we protect this package”. Former President of Ireland and current Chair of the Elders Mary Robinson at the conclusion of the conference said “COP26 has made some progress, but nowhere enough to avoid climate disaster. While millions around the world are already in crisis, not enough leaders were in crisis mode. People will see this as a historical shameful dereliction of duty.”